• Message From the President, David Livingston, MD

    President’s Perspective

    About 2700 years ago, Heraclitus wrote, “The only constant in life is change”.  More importantly, Benjamin Franklin followed up some 2400 years later with “When you are finished changing, you are finished”. I am certain there are no more fitting words and sentiments for the many transformations we are experiencing within the AAST.  I remain honored and humbled to be president of such an amazing group and in my inaugural message I would categorically state the AAST is definitely “not finished”!  These past two pandemic years as your president-elect has provided me the extra time to truly understand how vast and complicated our group has become. I pledge to you all to build on the amazing work of the recent past presidents, Drs. Spain, Croce, Rotondo and Coimbra and keep our organization changing and evolving in many positive ways. Some of these changes and success include the following:

    In the past two years, our group has pulled off two amazing meetings. The first all virtual meeting in 2020 and the recent hybrid one in Atlanta. These could not have been accomplished without the amazing staff consisting of - Sharon Gautschy, Jermica Smith, Brea Sanders, Bridget Lindbloom, Miguel Gutierrez, Afia Jones, Erin Lillis and especially Rachel Sass. As the AAST has grown over the last decade, the office staff has changed and grown in exponential ways and there is no doubt that none of the committees would be as successful without their help in keeping us all on track.

    One only has to look at the current executive committee, Dr. Eileen Bulger (President-elect), Dr. Kim Davis (Secretary-Treasurer), Dr. Roxie Albrecht (Vice President), Dr. Karen Brasel (Recorder) and David Spain (Immediate Past President) to realize that leadership is no longer restricted to men. This is a tremendous line up of incredibly talented surgeons and people. These are also the individuals who will lead the AAST for the next decade and we could not be in more capable hands.

    A landmark change was passing the torch to Dr. Raul Coimbra as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. After a decade of service, the AAST owes Dr. Gene Moore much gratitude for his excellent stewardship of JTACS. Stay tuned for the January issue to begin to see all the changes that Dr. Coimbra is embracing!

    Another major change, which may have gone a bit unrecognized was not only the number of people who volunteered for committees but that anyone who wanted to work, was put to work! Almost all committees were open and welcome to all. Compared to when I became a member 30 years ago when committee participation was restricted, this is a very welcome and important change. In addition, it allows increased diversity, inclusion and participation throughout the AAST. The leadership of these committees by our established members is tremendous and all one has to do is examine the current chairs and vice-chars of the various committees to see this change.  This increase in participation is definitely driving the exponential work product coming out of our committees.

    Led by Dr. Bulger and building upon the last AAST retreat, there is increased transparency and clear written guidelines to answer those important questions associate and more mid-career members ask, “How can I get involved?” and “What is the pathway to leadership?” These were introduced at our recent meeting in Atlanta and will be prominently featured on our website.

    Another major change was the introduction of the AAST APP – Tools for Acute Care Surgery (TACS). This project spearheaded over the past several years by Dr. Ram Nirula and supported by Ms. Rachel Sass will become the “go to” resource for all things Acute Care Surgery.

    The Associate Membership and Council continues to grow and when the data is examined, the new members are over 50% women and 17% underrepresented minorities.  While not perfect, again it is so different and so welcome from the AAST I joined.

    What has not and will not change is the AAST’s commitment to excellence in research, scholarship and education. The papers, talks and sessions at our 2021 Annual Meeting clearly demonstrates that aspect and I want to thank once again, Pat Reilly for 4 years of outstanding effort to bring the best of science to our meetings.  It is these works as well as the products from our committees and our membership that will drive the content on our APP and continue to make the AAST the premier scientific Acute Care Surgery organization across the globe. More importantly, it is the membership’s commitment to excellence in supporting the multiple missions of the AAST that makes our organization thrive. To that end and to further enhance our ability to support scholarship, I am imploring all of us to give to the AAST. At the present time less than 20% of the members give.  Remember, if you spend $10/week on coffee, that $500 will go a long way to support another resident or student to attend our meeting. A division or two might even give enough for another whole scholarship!

    So thank you again for trusting me to help lead and move our organization along. It cannot be done by one individual or even a small group. It takes all of us and I know we are up for that challenge. To a wonderful year together.

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